At the beginning of this year, 15 year-old Bell Block youngster, Eden Bristowe, made the decision to leave school and begin her career as an international model.
She packed her bags and travelled to Sydney where she took up residence in her first flat. Six months later she had featured in dozens of campaigns and she’s now on the cover of the current edition of Fashion Quarterly.
During September and October, Eden will be in the three fashion capitals of Europe – Paris , London and Milan, where she graces the catwalk at their respective Fashion weeks. With her first show in London, the now 16-year-old caused a stir when she opened for British designer, Vivienne Westwood.
Andrea Plowright, the owner of Eden Bristowe’s agency, 62 Models and Talent, said it was the first time in her twelve years with the company that a model from the agency had walked in a London Fashion Week show, let alone opened one.
It all started for Eden on a trip to Sydney to see her dad last year.
An Australian modelling agent spotted her in a shopping mall and asked her to come by the agency.
They did so, and “nothing happened then,” recalls Eden’s mum, Kerry Coleman, “but it got her interested in the industry.”
After returning home, Kerry and Eden were in local clothing store, Kudos, when owner Paul Scouller asked if Eden was modelling, and recommended she try 62 Models, based in Auckland.
That evening Kerry and Eden looked up the 62 Models website and filled in an application form. Kerry took a plain photo of Eden without make-up, as requested, and sent it off.
The next day they had an email stating the agency liked Eden’s look and asking if they were planning on making a trip to Auckland in the near future, as they would like her to call in to the agency.
Eden and her mum traveled up soon after and met the team there. Kerry discovered she used to go to school with one of the ‘bookers’ which helped mother and daughter both feel more at ease. Eden signed with the agency, who are now what is known as Eden’s ‘mother agency’.
“They started booking her for jobs – her first one was for Black log (the blog page for international New Zealand fashion magazine Black). I drove her to Auckland and back in a day,” Kerry recalls.
Eden was just 14 at this stage, and still in Year 10 at New Plymouth Girls’ High School.
Her first major assignment was an 8 page fashion shoot in Girlfriend magazine before doing New Zealand Fashion Week in September 2013.
She was having to take a few days off school to do various modelling assignments, and at the beginning of this year Kerry and Eden had a chat with the school about Eden’s options.
“The school was very supportive,” remembers Kerry.
In February of this year, Eden signed with Australian agency Chic through her connections with 62 Models. She left NPGHS and was soon on a plane to Sydney, where continued school by correspondence in between her modelling assignments.
“We took a lot of guidance from the agency,” says Kerry. “They have really looked after her.” Including finding a suitable place for Eden to live.
Eden has had to grow up fast. She’s had to learn how to cook a decent meal – her livelihood depends on her being able to properly nourish and care for her body, while her face can’t afford to have break-outs.
“We pointed out to her that she hasn’t left school for nothing. She needs to make this work,” Kerry emphasises.
Consequently, chicken salad has become Eden’s ‘go-to’ meal.
“It’s so easy to make and doesn’t take long,” says Eden.
She doesn’t have her driver’s license yet (she only became eligible to get her learner’s license in August), so she has become adept at using public transport to get to her various assignments. The running around and impromptu sprints to catch buses and trains, helps keep her in shape, though she also schedules in time for plenty of exercise.
Her Kiwi work ethic has held her in good stead and she is recognised for being prompt and getting on with things, no matter what the conditions are like.
This includes working through what is colloquially known as Fatima’s Revenge while doing the Fashion Quarterly shoot in Marrakech for a week during June. She also had to sit astride a camel and the temperatures sat well into the 30s. The resulting photos had Eden starring in a 12 page feature, as well as getting the cover shot of Fashion Quarterly’s Spring 2014 issue.
“Everyone loves her because she’s so polite and professional,” says Kerry. “People often describe her as ‘a breath of fresh air’.
“People love New Zealand and Aussie girls,” reckons Eden, “because we’re humble.”
Eden is loving the work so far and is learning a range of new things about the industry. Last November she was selected to be a representative for the Elite Model Look in China, which is essentially, a worldwide model competition. The winners get contracts with Elite Model Management.
Though Eden didn’t place at the event, she gained a lot of exposure and also learnt how to walk the runway.
She has since signed with Elite Worldwide and Society of New York modelling agencies.
Bird & Knoll, a trans-Tasman business specialising in luxurious oversized cashmere-blend scarves, chose Eden as their ‘muse’ and it is her you see in all their advertising.
You’ll also see Eden’s image at Glassons and Wild Pair.
She was back in New Zealand in September for New Zealand Fashion week, where she was one of the most sought-after models, often booked back-to-back for the various shows. Prior to that she worked two weeks solid back in Sydney.
Her favourite assignments are generally doing fashion shows.
“The atmosphere of it all, the models and make-up artists and hair stylists. It’s always a really good vibe.”
With fashion shoots, “you’re usually either really hot or really cold,” Eden confides, as winter fashions are shot during the preceding summer, and summer bikinis and the like are shot in the depths of winter. Even studio shots are usually baking hot or shiveringly cold.
Sometimes Eden admits she doesn’t recognise herself when given different looks by the hair and make-up people.
“They change the structure of my face with the way they apply the make-up and do my hair.”
The former tomboy never thought she’d be a model.
“I thought probably a beautician.”
She admits she misses her friends but keeps in touch via Facebook, Instagram and Skype.
“They are grounding and so supportive,” says Kerry. “They just treat her the same as they always have.”
Eden admits it was a bit scary when she first arrived to live in Australia.
“I didn’t know anyone, or where anything was. I was a bit lonely to begin with. But the more jobs I did, the more people I got to know and that made it a lot easier.”
Andrea Plowright of 62 Models comments that it helps having a super supportive family.
Once Eden has finished her current assignments, she’s planning on coming home for Christmas, and then she’ll likely go to live in London or Milan.
Pretty heady stuff for a 16 year-old from Bell Block.
But something she’s fast getting used to.